With the yellow cake tin in one hand and my satchel on my shoulder I headed off to school with my friend in the morning snow. It was a one and a half mile walk, down the hill, past the petrol station and the grocery shop where, in Summer on the way home, we’d buy Dalek ice lollies or Sherbet Dips. The route took us through the outskirts of town until we got to the steep steps by the railway station. That was the mental ‘Nearly There’ signpost. Next over the zebra crossing and finally the long, uphill avenue, joining fellow pupils straggling along in groups, like small flocks of sparrows in our drab beige and brown uniforms.
The yellow cake tin came with me for ‘Home Economics’ class. We were going to be making a Victoria Sandwich. Caster sugar, flour and margarine had been carefully measured out the night before and packed into the tin in plastic containers, alongside two large, loose white eggs.
We were quite stoical ‘70s children, perhaps because we had quite stoical parents who’d lived through the war and had eaten cakes made with grated potatoes and sand during the rationing. I might be wrong about the sand. Anyway - stoical - it’s just a bit of snow, maybe some ice, you walk to school as usual. When you get to your classroom you thaw out against a radiator before Assembly, until a teacher tells you you’ll get piles if you stay there too long. Whatever piles are.
But we skidded as we walked through town, landing on our bums and hands. Satchel straps slipped awkwardly off shoulders and my yellow cake tin landed and overturned on the frozen white pavement as I tried to right myself. Twice in succession my friend, my tin and I fell like skittles on the ice.
Oh - my eggs! As I rubbed snow off my coat I had visions of a Victoria Sandwich making itself messily inside the tin.
Round the corner by the railway station, I slipped again. Those eggs were never going to survive, but at least the steep steps were gritted and we were Nearly There.
We got to school and leaned on the radiator, getting the hotsies in our hands - the best bit about getting cold was that intense tingling when you warmed up; it was almost worth leaving your gloves off for. I opened my yellow cake tin to find, inevitably, the two large eggs smashed to pieces, their sticky gloopy contents covering everything else inside....
........Only they weren’t! Not even a hairline crack. Dropped several times, they survived every skid and fall and thud. What were the chances?
The Victoria Sandwich turned out nicely. As with the snow, it only lasted two days, unlike the bruises on my bum.
One last reminder of the snow (I love this song and video) - it's thawing here now